June 23, 2024

A pair of devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquakes rocked western Afghanistan on Saturday, leaving scores of people dead, according to the country’s national disaster authority.

While the exact death toll remains unclear, local authorities have estimated there are at least 100 people dead and hundreds more injured. The United Nations initially provided a preliminary figure of 320 dead, though it later said they were working to verify the number.

Mosa Ashari, the province’s disaster management chief, later told reporters that “more than 1,000 injured women, children, and elderly citizens have been included in our records, and about 120 people have lost their lives.”

As deaths and casualties from the earthquake continue to be reported, teams are in hospitals assisting treatment of wounded and assessing additional needs,” the World Health Organization in Afghanistan said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “WHO-supported ambulances are transporting those affected, most of them women and children.”

The epicenter of the original magnitude 6.3 tremblors hit about 25 miles northwest of the region’s largest city, Herat, near the border with Iran, at around 11 a.m. local time. It was followed by several aftershocks, including one with a 5.5 magnitude, the United States Geological Survey noted.

Mohammad Abdullah Jan, spokesman for the country’s national disaster authority, said four villages in the Zenda Jan district in Herat province were the hardest hit.

The quakes, which lasted well over an hour, sent residents fleeing from buildings and homes, many of which were left damaged. They also knocked down phone lines, making it difficult for those separated from their loved ones to reconnect.

“We were in our offices and suddenly the building started shaking,” 45-year-old Herat resident Bashir Ahmad told Agence-France Presse. “Wall plasters started to fall down and the walls got cracks, some walls and parts of the building collapsed.”

“I am not able to contact my family, network connections are disconnected,” he added. “I am too worried and scared, it was horrifying.”

With News Wire Services

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